Govt reduces buffer zones of Arkavati, Kumudvathi

Govt reduces buffer zones of Arkavati, Kumudvathi

The state government narrowed the ecological buffer zone around the Arkavati and Kumudvathi rivers by 50%, in a jolt to protection efforts.

The decision — made days before the government fell — ignores suggestions by the Environmental Management and Policy Research Institute (EMPRI) and leaves activists concerned for the waterbodies.

"This will lead to rampant urbanisation in the command area and affect rejuvenation," an activist said.

EMPRI's report on the Thippagondanahalli reservoir command area and the buffer zone was submitted in 2015. The institute prepared the report after the government directed it to investigate the issue.

In its 2003 notification, the forest department banned all construction and non-agricultural activities in the reservoir's command area. The land owners approached the court, prompting the state government to direct EMPRI for the report.

In the report, the institute asked the government to continue with the forest department's ban until it sets up an authority to protect the two rivers. "Any relaxation will lead to mushrooming of layouts and commercial complexes... removing the possibility of the rejuvenation of the rivers," the report stated.

The government's decision to cut two kilometres of the buffer zones on either side of the rivers was taken at a meeting chaired by the outgoing Bengaluru Development Minister, G Parameshwara.

While the one kilometre protected area in zone 3 was cut to 500 metres, the protected area in zone 4 was brought down from 1 km-2 km to 500 metres. The restriction on industries in zone 4 has also been removed.